ICL Invests €2.75 Million in Sustainable Protein Ingredients Startup Arkeon
Companies partnering to develop CO2-derived protein ingredients for food applications, using Arkeon’s carbon conversion process
ICL, a leading global specialty minerals company, announced its AgriFood innovation and investment platform, ICL Planet Startup Hub, has invested €2.75 million in Arkeon, GmbH. The investment will support Arkeon’s innovative and sustainable one-step fermentation bioprocess, which creates completely customizable protein ingredients by capturing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) and converting it into the 20 proteinogenic amino acids necessary for human nutrition. The resulting alternative proteins are carbon negative and clean-label functional ingredients.
Arkeon’s patented process pioneered the harnessing of carbon dioxide to make protein – through the use of archaea, a highly resilient single-celled microorganism – without genetic engineering. Archaea, part of the microbiota of all organisms, naturally feeds on CO2 and transforms these environmental emissions into nutritious protein – meaning the process is not just sustainable, it is also regenerative.
“I dedicated much of the past decade to exploring new and sustainable biotechnological methods of alternative protein production,” said Gregor Tegl, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Arkeon. “Our team has harnessed proficiencies in microbiology and gas fermentation to create an entirely new regenerative food-production system. ICL’s support and partnership will be instrumental in helping us scale our archaea-derived protein production capabilities.”
“Arkeon has achieved a major breakthrough, by finding a way to nourish people and revitalize our ecosystems at the same time,” said Hadar Sutovsky, vice president of External Innovation at ICL, and general manager of ICL Planet. “Arkeon’s dedication to developing a renewable and easy to use protein is completely in-line with our organization’s commitment to creating impactful solutions for humanity’s sustainability challenges in the global food markets.”
“Although a young company, Arkeon brings to the table innovative and sustainable technology for use in creating the next generation of alternative protein products. They also fully align with ICL Food Specialties growth strategy of pursuing new frontiers in unique and functional alternative proteins,” added Rado Sporka, vice president of the Food Specialties Commercial Business for ICL. “As an established corporation, we are able to offer our advanced infrastructure, extensive experience and accrued insights, plus market and regulatory related support. We look forward to working with this promising start-up to unlock a whole new food category based on Arkeon’s unique protein discovery, which is not dependent on land and requires minimal use of water, providing it with a limited ecological footprint.”
ICL is leading the current SAFE investment round, which totals more than €4 million and includes other investors, as well. As the newest portfolio member of ICL’s Planet Startup Hub, Arkeon will have full access to the ICL Food Specialties state-of-the-art R&D labs and production facilities. Arkeon marks ICL’s third investment over the past 12 months, via its Planet Startup Hub, which the company launched in 2021. The accelerator was established to nurture and advance both early stage and pilot-ready innovative companies operating within the FoodTech and AgriTech domains.